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Teaching Strategies to Make Learning Groups Function Better

Janelle Cox

If you are a 21st-century teacher, you most likely have implemented some type of collaborative learning group into your curriculum. Working with others is an essential skill that students must learn. Once students get into the working world, they will have to work with people of all races, genders, and personalities. By incorporating learning groups into your classroom, students will develop their communication skills as well as their social skills. Here are a few teaching strategies and tips to help make your learning groups function better.

Teaching Strategies that Meet the Needs of All Students

When you know the learning styles and personalities of all of your students, you will find it easy to group students together. This way you can figure out which students are better leaders, recorders, helpers, etc. You can also group students to include a visual learner, kinesthetic learner, and so on. You will want to avoid grouping all students who have the same type of personality or learning style because the group would not function properly.

Teaching Strategies that Rely on Experimentation

If you’re looking to make your learning groups function smoother, then you will have to experiment. Not all students will be able to work together, and that’s OK. If you have tried everything that you can to make it work and it just doesn’t, it’s OK to switch the groups up. Also, if you find that the group size is too small or too big, then you can adjust that too. Changing roles within the group is also a good idea. These changes can help develop students’ social as well as academic skills as they work with different peers.

Monitor Working Groups

Walk around the room and observe how students are interacting with one another. You will find that students will be more apt to ask more questions and talk at ease when they are in a small group verse in front of the whole class. Use this as an opportunity to have a little one-on-one time with your students. This also gives you the chance to help or praise students as you watch them interact among their groups. In addition to that, you can assess how well the group interacts with one another and see if you need to make any changes within the group dynamics.

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Create Specific Roles

By giving each student within the group a specific role, you will find that the group will just function better. It’s easy for born leaders to take charge of the group, or for shy students to sit back and let everyone else contribute. Specific roles will help equalize work as well as get the task done.

Tips to Share with Students

Share the following tips with students. They can use these tips as a guide when they are in their learning groups.

  • If you get the opportunity to choose your own groups, try and choose people that you don’t know that well. Don’t assume that you can’t work some own because you don’t know them.
  • Go into the group with the expectation that you will learn something new.
  • Make a good first impression on your group by introducing yourself.
  • If you find someone in your group is shy or silent, encourage them to speak up and get involved.
  • If you can’t solve a problem within your group don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • If there is resistance or a disturbance within the group, try and solve it together before asking for help.
  • Groups work best when everyone contributes their ideas. Make sure that everyone contributes equally.
  • Once the group session is over, get your group feedback on how you think you worked together.

When students are in their learning groups, you will find that you will have less disruptions in your classroom. Oftentimes, students disrupt the class when they are in the whole group because they want or need attention. Grouping students together allows these students the attention they are seeking. It’s a great way for those students who don’t like to still to get a little more positive attention and get the opportunity to participate in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Do you have any tips or tricks that make your learning groups run smoothly? Please share your ideas with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators.